DAVENPORT PAST AND PRESENT
Financial Condition of County-Militia-Territorial Council-Meetings-Town of Davenport Organized-Growth of Village-Naviagation of Rock River-First Church-Subscribers-Fire Department-Original Temperance Society-Schools-Death of W. B. Conway-Resolutions.
It may be a matter of curiosity to many to know the expenses and receipts, in detail, of the County, during the first year of its existence. The following is the statement for the year ending January, 1839:
The tax list for 1838, was eight hundred ninety-one dollars forty cents, of which only some two hundred forty-nine dollars three cents had been collected. If all had been, there would have remained to the County a balance of three hundred fifty-eight dollars forty cents.
This statement will give the reader a very fair idea of the financial condition of the County at that time.
An act having been passed by the Territorial Legislature to organize and discipline the Militia of the Territory, Gov. Lucas, in June, issued a general order dividing the Territory into Military districts. The counties of Scott, Cedar, and Linn, formed the first regiment, and a part of the second brigade, and were included in the third General Division. John H. Sullivan, of Scott county, was appointed one of the Aids-de-Camp to the Commander-in-Chief. Only one drill was ever had here, which will be noticed in its proper place.
The first session of the Territorial Legislature was by no means harmonious. The Governor endeavored to check the expenditures of the Legislature, which was resented by the latter; and a resolution was passed, in which they assert that the Governor "is not incested with advisatory or restraining powers over the Legislature, further than the disapproval of bills, memorials, and resolutions, presented for his signature." A committee, also, consisting of James W. Grimes, C. Swan, Laurel Summers, and Hawkins Taylor, reported that the Governor had no right to veto certain bills of expenditure passed by the Legislature.
This Report created considerable excitement, and meetings were held everywhere to take action upon it. One was held at the house of Col. T. C. Eads, in Parkhurst, at which Gov. Lucas was cordially upheld, his patriotism eulogised, and his statesmanship, virtues, and private life, unequivocally lauded and endorsed.
The following appointments were made by the Legislature and Governor for Scott county: Willard Barrows, Notary Public; Ebenezer Cook, Judge of Probate; Adrian H. Davenport, Sheriff; Isaac A. Hedges, and John Porter, Justices of Peace for Scott county.
The town of Davenport was incorporated by this Legislature. The first election for township officers was held April first. Rodolphus Bennett was elected Mayor, Frazer Wilson Recorder, and Dr. A. C. Donaldson, D. C. Eldredge, John Forrest, Thomas Dillon, and Capt. John Litch, Trustees.
The river opened February twenty-eight. There was during this winter, scarcely any snow, and the whole season was more like Spring than aught else. Business opened briskly this Spring, as the following from the April number of the Sun shows: "Since the opening of navigation our lovely little village has been thronged with travelers and emigrants. The tide of emigration is so great to this place, that it is almost impossible to procure houses to accommodate them; although our carpenters are busily engaged in putting up houses, yet still, they are filled as fast as erected, and the demand appears to increase. The demand is so great that it requires six or eight houses to be completed weekly to supply the wants of emigrants. Forty or fifty losts have been sold the past week. Our wharves, or rather our shores, are crowed with families and merchandize. Our farmers have sowed their spring-wheat, oats, and flax, and our prairies are in many places covered with a mantle of green, bespangled with the most beautiful flowers!"
These facts, for people in Pennsylvania, New York, and the New England States, are full of interest. such a time, as early in April, Eastern farmers are scarcely, if ever, free from snow-banks and chilling winds, a contrast which shows the immense superiority of Iowa in geniality.
The steamboat arrivals were from one to seven each day.
The Town Council held its first Session April twentieth. James M. Boling was appointed Treasurer, Wm. Nichols Street Commissioner, and W. H. Patten Marshal.
An advertisement, in April, states that the light draught keel-boat, G. M. Searl, will start from Stephenson, and go up rock River to Rockford. It need scarcely be added that boats do not now ascend this stream.
A company was organized about this time, which was called the "Rock River and Mississippi Steam Navigation Company." Their object is indicated in the name. Daniel G. Gornsey, G. C. R. Mitchell, and Sylvester Talcott, were Directors, Antoine LeClaire Treasurer, and Geo. Myers, Secretary. Although most of these gentlemen have now a sufficiency of the world's goods, it is not probable that they made a very large share by the navigation of Rock River.
The extensive pineries of Wisconsin began to send their products to Davenport this year by way of rafts - and brought from thirty dollars to thirty-five dollars per thousand feet.
At the third meeting of the Town Council, in May, Dr. Donaldson resigned his seat, and Andrew F. Russel was appointed to fill the vacancy. On motion, it was Resolved, That the temporary seal of this Council be an American twenty-five cent peice.
On the twenty-third of May, St. Anthony's Church was dedicated by Rt. Rev. Bishop Loras, of Dubuque, assisted by very Rev. S. Muzzuchelli. The Catholic Advocate thus speaks of the matter, after highly complimenting the beauty of the place:
"Mr. Antoine LeClaire, a wealthy Frenchman, and a zealous and exemplary Christian, in partnership with Mr. Davenport, has generously granted to the Catholic Congregation, in the very center of the town, a whole square, including ten lots, in the middle of which he has built, partly at his own expense, a fine brick Church, with a schoolroom attached. * * * * In order to lay in Davenport a lasting foundation for the Catholic religion, our Bishop has purchased half a square for a hospital, and several other lots for purposes of the same kind. * * * *
* The Church has St. Peter for its primary, and St. Anthony for its secondary patron."
The Rev. Mr. Pelamourgues, who first assumed charge of the Church, still retains it.
As this was the first Church erected in Davenport, it may not be uninteresting to publish the list of subscribers, and other matters connected with its foundation:
"At a meeting of the Catholics of Davenport and vicinity, held on the first day of December, 1839, for the purpose of regulating the Church accounts of said town, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:
1. Resolved, That a Board of three Trustees be regularly elected by the Congregation, to open a subscription, collect its amounts, and pay all standing debts incurred for the purchase of the ground and for the building of St. Anthony's Church of Davenport.
2. Resolved, That the Trustees be elected for the term of three years, and that after said period, a new election of Trustees shall be made.
3. Resolved, That the Rev. John A. Pelamourgues, Antoine LeClaire, and Geo. L. Davenport, be the Trustees of the Catholic Congregationn of Davenport and vicinity, for the purpose and time above mentioned.
SAMUEL MUZZUCHELLI, Secretary
SUBSCRIPTIONS TO PAY FOR ERECTING THE CATHOLIC CHURCH OF DAVENPORT.
LeClaire's Second Addition was laid out in May. It extended from Brady street, and included sixteen blocks of ten lots each. Some sixty lots were sold the first week, on all of which the purchasers bound themselves to erect dwellings in time, varying from six to twelve months.
The District Court held its second session in May. But little business was done, and there was not, we are told, a "single indictment against a resident of Scott county." Good for the morals of our worthy predecessors.
In the August election of this year, there were three tickets put in nomination. One from Davenport, another at Rockingham, and a third called the Union ticket. The Rockingham faction elected their Representatives - Laurel Summers and J. M. Robertson - two out of the three County Commissioners; Treasurer, Ira Cook; Assessor, and most of the lesser officers. Davenport elected A. F. Russel, Surveyor, and J. Work, County Commissioner.
The Davenport Ticket for Representatives were G. C. R. Mitchell and Abner Beard. The election turned mainly upon the County seat difficulty; and it is seen that Rockingham this time was ahead. This was owing to a union with the town of LeClaire; - the latter place being induced to work against Davenport, in order to, at some future time, secure a division of the county, with LeClaire as County Seat. To assist in bringing this about was the price paid by Rockingham to LeClaire for its assistance - and most egregiously were our up-river friends of LeClaire humbugged by this promise.
The level established by the town Council, from which all grades were to be taken, was the "south door sill" of Antoine LeClaire's store on Front street. When anything was reported as being so much above or below level, it was understood to mean simply so much above or below the said door sill. The same meeting organized the first Fire Department. This consisted in obliging every man inhabiting a house to have in his possession two fire-buckets, and to use them in case of a fire.
The original Temperance Society made its appearance about this time. The Rev. Mr. Turner claims its paternity. He lectured twice so powerfully, that his total abstinance pledge received fifty-six signatures at once. The Mayor, Mr. Bennett, was its first President, upon its organization, August sixth. It commenced with some eighty members.
A "Female Seminary" was opened in September by the Misses O'Hara. The "Davenport Forum" also made its debut about this time. The "Rock Island Seminary" was also in existence at this time, under the care of Rev. M. Hummer. A common school was also opened about the same time by a Mr. Blood.
About the first of October, or thereabouts, a steam ferry boat was started between this place and Stephenson by John Wilson. It was a small institution, comparatively, but was infinitely superior to the flat boats which had hitherto labored between the two places.
November sixth was a dark day in the calendar of events - for it marked as one upon which the gifted Wm B. Conway, Secretary of the Territory, departed from his sphere of usefulness, and from the presence of friends and admirers, "to return no more." He died at Burlington, and his body was received here on the ninth, by a Committee appointed for the purpose, and was conveyed to St. Anthony's Church, where the solemn services for the dead were performed by the Rev. Father Pelamorgues. A meeting was held on the morning of the ninth, whose proceedings are given in full:
PUBLIC MEETING. - At a meeting of the citizens of Davenport, convened at Davenport Hotel on Saturday, Nov. 9, 1839, to testify their respect for the memory of William B. Conway deceased, late Secretary of the Territory of Iowa, T. S. Hoge was called to the chair, and G. C. R. Mitchell appointed Secretary.
On motion, it was ordered that John H. Thorington, Thomas S. Hoge, Duncan C. Eldredge, Ira Cook, G. C. R. Mitchell, Richard Pearce, Antoine Le Claire and John Owens, be appointed a Committee to make the necessary arrangements for the funeral of the deceased, and also to draft and report resolutions expressive of the sense of this meeting.
The committee having retired for a short time reported the following resolutions which were unanimously adopted.
Resolved, That this meeting has heard with the most profound regret of the death of William B. Conway, Esq. late Secretary of the Territory of Iowa. Possessing a mind richly cultivated and improved, a disposition amiable and kind, he was generous and hospitable; of manners the most bland and courteous, respected, honored and beloved by all who knew him. We feel that in his death this neighborhood has lost its brightest ornament and the Territory one of its ablest and most worthy officers and highly valued citizens.
2. Resolved, That this meeting sincerely condole with the family of the deceased, in their severe and deep affliction, and pray that He who tempers the blast to the shorn lamb, may support and protect them.
3. Resolved, That as a mark of respect for the memory of the deceased, we will wear the usual badge of mourning for thirty days.
4. Resolved, That the proceedings of this meeting be signed by the chairman and Secretary, and the Iowa Sun and other papers throughout the Territory be requested to publish the same.
5. Resolved, That Antoine LeClaire and G. C. R. Mitchell be and they are hereby appointed a committee to deliver a copy of the proceedings of this meeting to the respected Widow of the deceased.
TH. S. HOGE, Chairman.
G. C. R. Mitchell, Secretary.
On the eleventh, a meeting of the Bar of the Territory of Iowa was held at Burlington to testify respect to the memory of the deceased, and the following was their expression.
"A distressing dispensation of Providence having deprived us of the society of one of our body, whom, during his residence among us, we had learned warmly to esteem, we feel called upon to express our deep regret for his untimely death, and of the estimation which his amiable and excellent qualities universally commanded. Therefore -
Resolved, That our brother, the late William B. Conway, had, by his amiable manners, unexceptionable deportment, as a member of the Bar, greatly endeared himself to his associates, the members of the Bar, of the Territory, generally.
Resolved, That by his death the Bar has been deprived of an able member, the Territory of a faithful officer and valuable citizen, ourselves of a devoted friend, and his wife and child of their only protector.
Resolved, That we take this method of expressing our deep regret at his untimely death, and of our condolence with the relatives of the deceased, and of bearing testimony to his many virtues.
Resolved, That we testify our respect for the memory of our deceased brother by wearing the usual badge of mourning for thirty days.
Resolved, That David Rorer, Esq., present these resolutions to the Supreme Court of the Territory for the purpose of having them entered on the record of the Court.
CHARLES MASON, Chairman.
WM. J. A. BRADFORD, Secretary.
Burlington, Nov. 11, 1839
A paint shop, by Riddle & Morton, a wagon shop, by S. P. Whitney, and a drug store, by C. Lesslie, were opened this year, and were the "first" of each kind. Four churches were also organized - Congregational, Disciple, Baptist, and Catholic.